No. You aren’t normal. But Who Cares?”
A Case for Not Normal AF
I am asked A LOT by people if something about them is normal. I have often been tempted to reply with “NO! You aren’t and who f-ing cares???? Celebrate NOT being normal!” So today I will with a splash of cheekiness and a whole lot of I get it compassion….
Of course I get it. Our sexuality is intricately tied to our essence-the core of who we are -so if something about our sexuality is feared to be ‘off’ some may extrapolate that to mean that THEY aren’t normal. But that isn’t true. Or at least the part about this thought being negative isn’t true.
What is normal?
Why do we want to be normal or be viewed as normal?
A Case for Not Normal AF.
For me, I am drawn to quirky and weird and different. In all ways. Always have been. In my single and dating days, I was rarely drawn to the same kind of dudes as my friends. The guy with the weird hat or funny shoes or had some sort of ‘differentness’ to him in his personality is who I would end up talking to for the evening. I was especially drawn to a different sense of humor and verve. THAT was the guy I wanted. Stereotypical good looks couldn’t keep me interested long. An expected life path or set of goals wasn’t going to get multiple dates from me either.
Back then, I believe what I was drawn to was what I thought these guys had going for them-authenticity. Being him. Not giving two fucks about what others thought of him, his hat or his drink choice. Now, as I’ve aged and loved and lost, I totally get those sorts of things can be gimmicky and not authentic.
I do think authenticity is key.
Showing up as who you are. THAT is what I am drawn to and THAT isn’t normal. Or rather, that isn’t common.
And I get that too. Face a slew of verbal assaults on who you are as a person, fail on a few career endeavors or get shut down on a particular sexual interest and you are much more cautious to put that out there again. To put YOU out there.
It isn’t fun to show up authentically and get rejected. It is hard in this world to show up as you truly are. To own your personality. The good and bad of you.
It is difficult to be vulnerable. At any age. At any stage really. We all want to be seen and understood and loved and validated and wanted. And we don’t want to feel judged or rejected or criticized. Inside and outside the bedroom.
So we put on masks. We hold back. For some, they become chameleons and change for what they think the other person wants to hear-but it isn’t the truth of who they are. Other people have a secret life. Their partner knows this part of their life but not THAT part.
You know it. You’ve most likely lived it to some extent too.
So have I.
As it probably won’t surprise you if you follow me, I think a lot. I write a lot. In a relationship, it takes a special kind of guy to keep up with all of the thinking and talking and processing. And I don’t apologize for it. It is a part of me I accept and know won’t be a match for everyone. Probably not many actually. And I’m okay with that too.
I started dating someone once and decided to write an email ‘putting it all out there’. I re read it recently and laughed. I giggled because I couldn’t believe some of the things I wrote about myself, my history and what I wanted in life. Like TWO WEEKS IN to meeting. I went big in that email. To a virtual stranger.
That isn’t something I would do right now in my life but I have lots of compassion for the woman who needed to write that email. Who needed to him to know. Who unknowingly needed to see his reaction. To accept me. The good, the bad, the ugly, the talkative, the processing, the fun, the crazy, the hurt, the not normal, the funny, the seeking, the bleeding….
At that point in my life, authenticity was KEY. To my safety. To my survival. And I needed to be authentic with who I am and what I wanted. I was also probably trying to push him away unknowingly. That’s another article….
His reply? Gratefulness, compassion, some surprise and then an equally honest and authentic response. That energy was incredible. Showing up. Showing up as ourselves. Taking the risk of being vulnerable. And boy did it feel great to have it received with welcomed arms. For us, then, it was a game changer for our relationship. That exchange catapulted us to a deep connection fast.
Because of authenticity and letting go of the fear of rejection of what someone else may not see as acceptable or normal or ‘okay’.
One caveat: I’m not saying that we get this wide open space to be whatever, do whatever and act however and FU if you don’t accept me. I’m not talking that level of no accountability. We are accountable to ourselves and others. We have a responsibility to keep healthy, to do no harm and to do and say only the things that serve us and others. I’m saying we have the responsibility to add being authentic with ourselves and with others to that list. And again, I’m not recommending to go write an email like that. I didn’t know how it would turn out. I just knew I needed to show us in a real way.
So…is “that” normal? Probably not if you are asking. Is it okay? Most likely yes.
So are YOU normal? Is that specific thing that you like normal? Is that issue you are having normal? No. And all of that is okay too. If that sounds weird or you think it is dangerous for me to say that (I have been told that before), than you probably don’t get what I am saying. I’m making a case for normal being an outdated word and one that is harmful to us individually and as a society. I am not saying there is no place for healthy, not harmful, serving the greater good kind of things. I’m saying that is the only part that really matters. I’ve also been accused of making everything acceptable and normal and saying we can’t say anything is bad or wrong for fear of offending someone. Nope and yes.
I think we need a transition from normal to not normal to who REALLY CARES????
And it starts like this:
First, release yourself from needing the normal part of things and seek freedom.
Next, ask yourself three key questions:
- Is it healthy for me or others (if applicable)
- Is it harming me or someone else?
- Is it serving me and my life?
Finally accept. You are who you are. You are your decisions, your experiences, your challenges, your blessings, your dreams, your secrets, your fuck ups, your beauty. You. Authentic, beautiful you. WHY WOULDN’T YOU OWN THAT? Also accept others. You can’t seek acceptance without giving it too.
If you find yourself wanting to know if something you do, experience, like or dislike is ‘normal’….ask those questions. If there is a harm (examples: hurting the connection with partner, adding to your depressive tendencies, making you isolate…) then you need to educate yourself, find support and seek alternatives.
Now of course, I do like letting people know they aren’t alone. I get the “ Normal Question”. I still wonder those things about myself time to time. It is part of our human experience. Don’t think if you see me or write me and ask if something is normal that I won’t validate the question. I will. Our experience in life isn’t a solo human endeavor. I find it important to assuage people’s fears of freakiness, validate trauma or human functions/interests. And at times I need this too.
I often think the REAL question that is being asked when “Am I normal?” is posed is actually “Am I okay? Am I acceptable?” I am going to always tell you that you are. Okay. Accepted. And I am going to applaud that you aren’t normal.
I’m going to ask you to be authentic with WHO you are and to own what you like, what you don’t want and how you are showing up in the world.
I find my readers like concrete examples so here are some true ones from my practice that take this idea specifically into the world of sexuality.
Him: I can only get an erection while in the school library. Is that normal?
Me: Nope. How cool that your body has made something specific like that for your arousal. Is it hurting you?
Him: Well, it can be challenging to keep convincing girls to do it with me there and what do I do when I graduate?
We talked about how it started and how the experiences are outside of the library. We explored if it was the public risk taking or the actual library. We came up with ideas to meet the needs he discovered this was fulfilling but in a way that would provide more flexibility within relationships. We discussed how to communicate this behavior to partners. We explored shame and fears.
I don’t assume harm. I don’t assume it is wrong or bad. I don’t assume they want it to stop. My clients need to decide that. By taking away those assumptions, I am not adding to the shame that this person has already heaped onto himself.
Her: It takes me over 30 minutes to orgasm when my partner goes down on me. Is this normal?
Me: Well the average length of time for an orgasm for a woman is around 23 minutes. Now, that number is so misleading because of all of the variables that go into pleasure—exhaustion, connection with partner, mental health, distractibility, feelings of shame or pressure to perform, skill level of partner, self awareness of self….the actual time varies person to person and experience to experience. What is the feeling that makes you question your timing of pleasure?
Her: He sighs a lot and I worry he is getting bored or uncomfortable. He whispers things to encourage me but it only makes me feel more pressure. He doesn’t take as long so why aren’t I that same length? And he has a few times made a few comments that were either something must be wrong with me because other women did it quicker or he wonders if he isn’t doing it right.
[So I educate and talk belonging. I give what scientific facts exist and I give antidotal stories that help her hear what other people I work with say about this topic. I would say I ‘normalize’ it for her but well, that brings up that word again…so I’ll say “I belongingize it for her.”]
I also address the ‘shoulds’: You sound like you think you should perform the orgasm for him in a set amount of time that pleases him and makes you feel less self conscious.
I challenge wording, I look for opportunities to reframe thoughts and beliefs: I wonder if you could see this as a time period to relax and receive. To surrender to pleasure. To either let go to another’s exploration of your body or to take charge and together discover your body’s pleasure ride. Could you see the time period like a professional massage you are paying for? You know it is going to be a 60-minute experience-so sit back for the experience instead of timing it? I know when I sign up for a massage I am not feeling bad that it is taking 60 minutes to get through my whole body.
I look for opportunities to communicate: I encourage if the person’s topic is related to a partner or another to communicate any fears, questions, or concerns. If addressed without criticism and in a spirit of curiosity or loving vulnerability, many concerns can be elevated.
There are SO many that are more beneficial to explore beyond normal. Hopefully you can see them in those two short examples. And to explore it outside of your sex life.
And the case for not normal? It stands. And as you can guess, I’m all for it. And I’m all for redefining and reclaiming a new way of looking at ‘normal’.
9 Things to Reclaim Not Normal AF
1. Drop ‘normal’ from your vocabulary.
2. Ask a different question. Is this healthy for me? Is this serving me? Is it harming myself or others?
3. Compare and contrast from one another. This is a GOOD thing if done correctly.
4. Address shame. Reframe it. Explore fears. Reclaim them.
5. Get rid of ‘shoulds’.
6. So much of what we are seeking with questions of normalcy is a sense of belonging. Feel accepted and understood. Seek communities that give it.
7. Get BEDUCATED.(Totally taken from my brilliant friends formerly known as Omooni.) If you are wondering if you are normal surrounding something related to your sexuality, educate yourself. “Bed-ucate” yourself. Read reputable sources on line. Seek experts. Don’t be afraid of your Google search communities for other seekers in your topic of question. If you need to, start anonymously and then move into owning your questions and inquiries.
8. Show up authentically to safe people in your life. Take risks to show up as you, to communicate what you need and ask for what you want and do not put pressure on anyone to live up to, fulfill or love all of you or your needss
9. Support others in being authentic and communicate who they are in their true selves.
So…show up as your not normal, completely awesome, so weird and thankfully not normal selves. I’m here as my completely weird, so not normal, flawed, wanting to be accepted self too.
Commit to be open to being loved and wanted and accepted. Realize that 95% of the things that you worry ‘aren’t normal’ are SO COMMON but no one talks about it. Commit to owning who you are and what you need and want. Remember that we are all trying, we are all on our own journeys and we are striving for belonging, understanding, love and purpose.
Would love to hear your thoughts. Join in on the conversation in the comments below or within FB and Instagram comment sections.
X oh, Dr Juliana
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